Earlier in the FIFA World Cup, we had various milestones involving women referees. France’s Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to officiate a Men’s World Cup match as the fourth official during MexicoPoland. Then Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga was the first African woman to be fourth official.

Further history was made as Frappart, along with Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexico’s Karen Díaz, will be the first all-woman referee crew at a Men’s World Cup. Those three are working the final Group E match between Costa RicaGermany where both teams need a result to have a shot at advancing.

I’m in no way trying to downplay this moment. This is no doubt a great moment and in the competitive field of refereeing, it shows that women belong on the world’s stage.

That being said, the timing of all this does feel like FIFA is doing this, not because they believe that women should be in these high-profile positions but to get positive PR and deflect from the endless controversy of having this World Cup in Qatar.

Even if there was an ulterior motive, the fact is that it happened, and it’s great that these women are taking charge. And as long as this continues and women referees are a part of men’s and women’s games, then that’ll tell us if FIFA is being serious about equality.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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